The Origins of Common Sense

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As a writer, I’m fascinated by the origins of words. I have a fondness for Latin and other languages and would like to learn how to speak many languages. This will come in handy if I’m a contestant on The Amazing Race! I’m intrigued by the word common sense and decided to research it. Where does it come from? Who first said it? Why did they say it? If “common sense” is so common, why do so many people lack it? Merriam-Webster Online defines common sense as “beliefs or propositions that most people consider prudent and of sound judgment, without reliance on esoteric knowledge or study or research, but based upon what they see as knowledge held by people in common.”

According to Aristotle, “the common sense is an actual power of inner sensation (as opposed to the external five senses) whereby the various objects of the external senses (color for sight, sound for hearing, etc.) are united and judged, such that what one senses by this sense is the substance (or existing thing) in which the various attributes inhere (so, for example, a sheep is able to sense a wolf, not just the color of its fur, the sound of its howl, its odor, and other sensible attributes.” Leave it to Aristotle to be so insightful. I wonder what Plato and Socrates think of common sense?

Perhaps some people are more ‘tuned-in’ than others. Perhaps they’re more sensitive or intuitive than others; therefore; see things which others cannot. If common sense means “paying attention to the obvious,” what blocks people from seeing it? What blocks freelance writers from using common sense when they accept a writing assignment without a contract? May be they had a momentary lapse in reason!

A little common sense can go a long way. Freelance writers, can use their common sense when working with clients. Don’t assume that your clients know what they want. Don’t assume your clients will proofread your work — that’s part of your job. Make sure you reference your sources and give credit where credit is due. Don’t people aren’t paying attention to what you’re writing because they are.

Freelance writers need common sense. Don’t accept a writing project without a contract. Don’t sell yourself short and accept any writing project. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your common sense and gut instinct and walk away from a potential client. Trust that you actually know the answer. Get out of your head and into your heart!


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